Summer garden flowers that grow in clay. I live with difficult clay, it’s a slippery water logged bog in the winter and like concrete in the summer. I grow about 1/2 of the clay loving flowers on this list below and continue to add more every season.
The best part of having clay soil is you will save on a gym membership because nothing will get you in shape faster than trying to dig a hole and plant a garden in clay.
Don’t worry unless you are vegetable gardening, the 20 clay loving flowers below will save you a lot of work!
There’s always a silver lining to every challenge. Clay has a lot of nutrients within its soil, the challenge is lightening the clay so that plants can actually take advantage of this locked up nutrition.
If you are trying to vegetable garden, you will have to make some major amendments to the soil for your veggies to thrive.
I know I live where it’s hot and dry with compact red clay dirt, that turns into a mucky plant suffocating mess during the rainy winters and a brick in the summertime.
How to improve clay soils? Mulch, mulch, mulch! Leaves, wood chips, and composted manures.
The organic matter lightens the soil so that roots can breathe. Mulch is gold and there’s no such thing as too much! This has been a miracle in my vegetable garden, my soil is now black filled with earthworms, and it fills me with excitement.
Clay doesn’t drain well which can cause root rot issues. Another easy amendment depending upon your soil pH is the addition of organic lime. Just follow the application instructions on the bag.
This will improve drainage but should only be used on acidic clay soils because it will adjust your soil’s pH. You can check your soil’s pH with this simple soil test kit it tests other nutrients too!
BUT for the rest of the yard that needs to be beautified without a lot of fuss, here is a list of clay loving flowers. Gorgeous plants that thrive in clay soil
20 Plants that Grow in Clay and Thrive
Drought Tolerant flowers for Clay Soil
Image credit to Seven Stones
Russian Sage is a beautiful whimsical addition to any planter bed. It makes a dreamy border with its silver foliage and delicate lavender colored spikes of flowers. Its drought tolerant, it loves hot and dry, and thrives in clay. It actually can become invasive. It’s a drought loving perennial, that pairs beautifully with another clay dweller black eyed susans.
Black Eyed Susan a cheery classic perennial that does well in clay
Image credit to Appeltern
Echinacea is a hardy heat loving flower with a long bloom through summer. The purple daisy like flower above, is an annual but it will reseed its-self year after year. It’s a great addition to any edible landscaping garden, for growing your own natural remedies.
Yarrow also a medicinal plant with fern-like foliage. Pictured above with echinacea, the pairing is a beautiful combination. I have yarrow taking off in my planter bed now.
I purchased a single 1 gallon plant, and divided it up with a shovel and made 6 plantings that are all thriving on my red clay slope in my backyard.
Yarrow puts on a delicate flower cluster that comes in a variety of colors, I went with the burgundy! It can also be used in natural remedies if you are into the awesomeness of growing food and remedies.
Vinca is a hardy flower that can take the heat when other flowers will wilt from it.
Asters are a classic iconic daisy. It’s a late summer through fall bloomer to ensure you get color all season long!
Coreopsis a beautiful daisy like perennial flower that is available in a variety of colors that begins blooming in early summer.
Phlox is a hardy drought tolerant summer bloomer with stunning flower cluster, that are great for cut flower arrangements.
After gardening for several years in unrelenting hard red clay, that’s too boggy in the wet season and like concrete in the blistering summers. These flowers are workhorses in my zone 8, hard clay soils. These flowers I grow with great success and minimal effort, include:
Zinnias – hardy, beautiful, and bloom all summer even when it’s 120F. I let them self seed, and they are popping up in the most unrelenting compacted soils, which have given me an even greater appreciation for these hearty showy flowers.
Yarrow – hardy, medicinal, fern-like foliage with delicate flower clusters. It can really take over a bed if left unchecked. In the right spot, this has been great to cover sloped clay banks.
Mexican Primrose – Another great filler, it too can take over a bed with profuse pink flowers. In the right spot, this is great as it has filled in a red clay slope that previously only grew thistle. It also attracts many butterflies, moths, and bumblebees. Bumblebees are great pollinators for tomato plants, so these flowers are great for boosting your tomato harvest!
Climbers for Clay Soil
Honeysuckle climbing with clematis
Honeysuckle smells so wonderfully sweet with its delicate trumpet-shaped blossoms. This is a hardy plant that has done well in our hard clay soils, it likes full sun to partial shade. It’s a climber and does great as a privacy screen or a solution to hide an ugly fence.
Clematis another show stopper that works in both full sun to partial shade.
Flowers that love wet soil
Image credit Hicks Nurseries
Here are beautiful clay loving plants, a trio of yellow daylilies, bright white and green foliage of the Hosta, and feathery purple plumes of the astilbe.
Hosta great for partial to full shade spots in wet areas. Their beauty is in their foliage, which comes in a few varieties. There are striped and solids in different hues of green.
Astilbe for wet clay areas. With fern like foliage and feathery flowers in a variety of colors.
Daylilies are another clay loving flower, that is not a part of the lily flower. Daylilies have a hardy root system and are not bulbs. They are edible too! They are not fussy and will tolerate wet and dry soils.
Japanese Iris. Image credit Birds and Blooms
Japanese Iris a bearded flower. Great for wet clay areas. We have these and they have been growing and producing more bulbs, spanning out into a larger area for many years. They have been thriving in hard clay, in a shady spot under a tree for a long time now.
They do like moisture though. Zone 4-10 in our zone 8 climate they tend to bloom in spring, but still have thick green bladed foliage all throughout the year.
Cannas all varities of canas do well in clay. I have a canna thriving now in my zone 8 climate, it survives all year and flowers in the summer. The foliage is stunning and tropical. Cannas like a lot of moisture. This is a great plant for wet clay areas!
Clay loving plants for pollinators
These are all drought tolerant flowers too!
Blazing Star a gorgeous summer blooming flower with colors ranging from purples, reds, and whites it pairs well with echinacea, and yarrow. Attracts bees and butterflies too! Drought tolerant!
Wild Senna has bright yellow blooms in the summer and foliage with autumn colors in the fall. Great for pollinators too!
It is essential food for the cloudless sulpher butterfly. It’s a large plant the does well as the back border plant, growing up to 5’ tall. Very drought tolerant!
Milkweed save the monarchs. Thrives in clay and is necessary food for monarch butterflies, which are essential food for young monarch caterpillars.
There are a variety of milkweeds some are drought tolerant, others prefer wet conditions. Monarchs feed on the milkweed from the family Asclepias, look for this in the formal Latin name of the plant if you are wanting a butterfly garden.
Bee Balm and Goldenrod
Image Credit Garden Fuzz Garden
Bee Balm doesn’t get its name from no where, bees love it! So, do the butterflies and humming birds! With an unusual flower that shows off during the summer months. Drought tolerant too!
Goldenrod if you love delicate sprays of feathery yellow flowers, this hardy perennial is also loved by bees and butterflies. Drought tolerant!
There are a wide variety of options depending on the challenges you are facing with your clay whether it’s an area with too much moisture or not enough. I grow about ½ these plants in my red clay and I am still adding more. What’s your favorite flower to grow?